Differences between Wrongful Death and Survival Actions in TexasApril 3, 2017
When another party’s negligence takes the life of your loved one, you may have a few different options for pursuing justice and financial recovery in Texas civil courts. In particular, it may be possible to pursue a wrongful death claim and/or a survival action.
The right option for you will depend on a number of different factors, some of which can include:
- Your relationship to the decedent (i.e., the person who was killed as a result of some negligent action)
- The specific nature of the damages being sought
- How you want the damages to be paid out (if the claim is successful).
The following highlights the differences between wrongful death claims versus survival actions in Texas.
Before delving into this discussion, it is important to note that:
- We fully understand that no amount of money can never replace a loved one or make up for these tragic losses.
- Pursuing a wrongful death and/or survival action can be essential to alleviating your financial stresses and mental suffering. It can also be central to securing some justice after a fatal accident has occurred.
Texas Wrongful Death Claims1
The point of wrongful death claims in Texas is to compensate eligible surviving loved ones for the losses and damages they’ve personally suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Here are some of the ways that Texas wrongful death claims are distinct from survival actions:
- Who can file wrongful death claims in Texas – State law only permits a surviving spouse, children or parents of a decedent to file this type of claim. If none of these parties has survived a decedent (because, for example, there was no spouse or children and the parents passed away before the decedent), this action would not be an option for other surviving loved ones (like, for example, a sibling).
- The available damages – Compensation for wrongful death claims can include (but may not be exclusive to) actual damages for funeral and burial costs, loss of parent’s or child’s services, psychological treatment, loss of advice and counsel, loss of consortium, loss of inheritance, mental anguish, and punitive damages when the death was caused by the defendant’s willful act or omission or gross negligence.
- How damages are paid – If these claims are successful, the compensation is paid directly to the plaintiffs who are statutory beneficiaries of the estate. This means that the award would be directly paid to the surviving spouse, the parent(s) and/or the child(ren) who filed the claim as beneficiaries to the estate.
Texas Survival Actions1
In contrast to wrongful death claims, survival actions in Texas are based on claims that the decedent would have had if (s)he survived the accident or incident. Here are some of the ways that Texas survival actions are distinct from wrongful death claims:
- Who can file survival claims in Texas – A broad group of loved ones can pursue survival actions (when compared to wrongful death claims). In fact, Texas law allows an estate, as well as heirs and even legal representatives, to file these claims.
- The available damages – Compensation for survival claims can include (but may not be limited to) damages for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
- How damages are paid – When these actions are successful, the compensation is paid out to the decedent’s estate, rather than directly to the party (or plaintiffs) who filed the claim. This can mean that more surviving heirs or beneficiaries are able to benefit from the recoveries obtained from these claims.
Wrongful Death & Survival Actions in Texas: More Important Information
- Pursuing one or both claims – Wrongful death claims and survival actions can be pursued at the same time or sequentially. In other words, a surviving loved one may have the option to move forward with both types of claims (rather than just choosing one action). An attorney can explain your specific options to inform you whether both are available (and, if so, which to pursue first), depending on your situation, needs and goals.
- Filing deadlines – Texas law sets strict deadlines (i.e., statutes of limitations) for filing wrongful death claims, as well as survival actions. In some cases, these deadlines may be “tolled.” This basically means that the clock counting down to the deadline is put on hold until some event or action occurs. To find out the statues of limitations that apply to your claim(s), contact the Amaro Law Firm.
- Case complexity – Both wrongful death and survival claims can be complicated, and making a mistake at any point during these claims can compromise your right to recovery. Avoid any missteps and position your claim for success by contacting an attorney at the Amaro Law Firm.
Discover Your Options for Justice: Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
A Houston personal injury lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm is ready to discuss your options for justice and financial recovery if you or someone you love has been harmed in an accident.
Simply call (713) 352-7975. Or email our firm.
This one step can be the key to getting the information you need to effectively protect your rights and claim as you move forward. It can also be pivotal to your and your family’s overall recovery and future.
1: The complete text of the Texas statutes regarding wrongful death and survival actions can be viewed here.